If I would ask someone in Belgium “what are Jerusalem Artichokes?”, they probably wouldn’t know. Maybe they would answer that it’s the name of a Jewish art collective specialized in ecologic art or a support group for vegetarians in Israel. A lot of them would maybe think that it are vegetables cultivated around a city, known for being the battlefield between three monotheistic religions, somewhere in the Middle East.
I can’t imagine that a lot of people would answer “It’s a vegetable, also called earth apple, a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from Eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It was cultivated by the Native Americans long before the arrival of the Europeans.” (Source: Jimmy Wales his child). At least I didn’t know, but that’s the only true answer. The origin of the name is unknown.
On the first picture you can see the flower. The earth apple looks like the picture on the left. It doesn’t look so tasteful and I can tell you: it’s a lot of work to clean those dirty little bastards.
Once you cleaned them, you can make some delicious dishes. I made a soup and if you ask my opinion, it was a “real party in my tummy”.(***) Really, it was one of the best soups I made in the last weeks. The full recipe is called “a creamy Jerusalem Artichokes soup with hazelnut and smoked bacon”. (this recipe is based on the recipe of Weekend Knack, a Belgian magazine)
What do you need? butter, flour, one onion, half a celery stalk, 400 grams of Jerusalem Artichokes, 1,3 liter of vegetable stock, 4 tbsp of hazelnut, 2 spring onions, cream, 75 grams of smoked bacon
What do you do? Chop the onions and fry them in a bit of butter. Add the flour and stir till you get a kind of roux. It will thicken your soup.
Add the Jerusalem artichokes and the celery, chopped in little pieces. Fry shortly and add the stock. Let it cook.
When the vegetables are cooked, pour away half of the water (called broth, right?). Mix it. When mixed, pour it through a sieve. Add some cream to the mixture, stir and keep it warm. Spice with pepper and salt.
Before serving the soup, roast some hazelnuts, fry the bacon and chop the spring onions. Add all this to the soup when serving. Enjoy and may your guests be impressed.